People are social beings and want to know what other people are doing. Social networking platforms reach one in four people around the globe. This is why so many practitioners are beginning to harness the power of user generated content.
In my last blog post, we established that, like Grumpy Cat, social media PR is successful because it presents organisations in a relatable way to publics. People are nosey, so human interest plays a crucial role. This is why user-generated content is so effective.
Daily, 55 million pictures are posted on Instagram. Utilising this content for PR purposes not only makes the role of the PR practitioner easier, but involves publics in organisational processes.
Some other reasons why user generated content is ideal for PR include:
Cost Effectiveness: PR practitioners don’t neccessarily need to pay a graphic designer or stylist for vast amounts of visual content.
Time Saving: Leading on from the last point, practitioners don’t have to design or write content themselves.
Builds Rapport with Publics: Re-posting/gramming/tweeting UGC makes publics feel recognised and involved. Social media platforms are the No. 1 online activity in the US; meaning people generate a lot of content. Additionally, publics tend to trust UGC more than content created by the organisation.
Humanises PR: people can relate to content created by people who are in similar situations to them. Generates human interest and a sense of inherent connection.
A great example of organisations harnessing the potential of user generated content is Starbucks. Instagram users put #Starbucks on their posts of coffee and the official Starbucks account re-posts (link) the best ones to the official page. Users interact with these posts by commenting, liking, hash tagging and re-posting the photos.
The beauty of using social media platforms for PR is that there is no set formula for success. Different platforms are suited to different organisations and their diverse publics. Instagram is great tool for visually branding, whereas, micro-blogging site, Twitter, is better used for text based content.
Obviously, practitioners cannot solely rely on UGC. Best PR practice would be to use a fusion of the two types of content. However, heavy involvement of the public in organisational social media is a step forward in achieving two-way symmetrical communication and increasing human interest.